The difficulties of putting patients first

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 30 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:h

The point of medicine is to look after patients. Yet every medical student hears the tired joke that the perfect hospital is one without patients. If they were to disappear then so would the bad smells, blood, chaos, stress, and waiting lists. As a medical student doing a locum I had a sneaking worry that the teaching hospital was run for the benefit of the doctors not the patients. At night I was the only “doctor” present, but a dozen would appear for the consultant's ward round. We'd spend 15 minutes on each of two patients with strange and fascinating but usually untreatable conditions and then …

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